The 2012 Volvo S80 doesn't quite have the racy looks of the brand's new S60 sport sedan, but it definitely can be equipped with serious go-fast hardware under the hood—a 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged six in the all-wheel-drive T6.
But while it can move very quickly, the S80 is never all that much fun to drive. That's mostly because of the S80's rather dull steering feel, and the sense that the S80 carries itself with a lot of heft—even if it is quite maneuverable. T6 versions also include an active suspension system that continually adjusts the S80's shocks from Comfort, Sport, and Advanced to fit varied types of driving; it can also tie in with the variable-assist power steering, which ranges from light to firm. That all-wheel drive system in the S80 can send up to 50 percent to the rear wheels when needed, but it's definitely not a car that encourages you to push harder.
Go with the base, 240-hp straight-six and front-wheel drive, and you'll actually have a car that feels a little more agreeable (and nimble and economical).
Actually, the S80, from our experience, seems to specialize in a different kind of performance: the open road. Factor in the firm but comfortable suspension settings, quiet interior, and superb seats--along with good passing power and almost effortless tracking--and the S80 is hands-down one of the best long-distance highway cruisers on the market.